Dental office for sale

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How Much is My Dental Practice for Sale Worth?

When it comes to valuing a dental practice for sale, there are a lot of different methods and theories. In all honesty, there are so many variable factors that there is no one formula where you plug in numbers on one end and get an objectively correct answer out the other. But there are a couple of rules of thumb that can give you a good idea of a ballpark range. Realistically, you’ll need to work closely with your accountant, your dental practice broker, and, ideally, a certified valuation analyst (here at ddsmatch Southwest, we partner with Blue & Co. for our client’s valuation needs).

The two most common methods for valuing a dental practice dental practice for sale are to use a multiple of collections or a formula relying on your earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). We’ll discuss each in turn and then discuss why these numbers will only tell part of the story.

Multiple of Collections

The multiples of collections method is fairly simple, until its not. The simple part is that it’s just a multiplication equation. You take your total collections (or gross revenue from the practice) and multiply it by a percentage. This, however, is where it gets less clear: what percentage do you use? Historically, the average answer has been about 67%, although you will also hear this should be 70-80% of the average of your last three years collections. Another way to consider this approach is the price to gross revenue. That is, what will the buyer be willing to pay for each dollar of collections? $.67, $.70, $.75, or $.80?

Our use of the word “historically” should be telling. This method of valuation is become less common as the business side of the dental industry changes (more on this in the next section). However, before you get too excited about the simplicity of this method, consider the following hypothetical: if you have a practice will $1m in collections, using a multiple of collections method, the practice could be valued reasonably within the $670,000-$800,000 range, depending on other variables. The problem here is you are only looking at one number, the total collections. You don’t have any information yet about overhead and other costs. This hypothetical dental practice for sale could actually be worth much less.

EBITDA

The earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) is becoming increasingly popular as the business side of the dental industry has experienced a shift towards a greater number of group practices being driven by entrepreneurial dentists and outside investors. With group practices being more and more focused on investor returns, there is a shift to an investor perspective of owning and operating dental practices. Typically, investors consider the actual debt-free cash flow, rather than gross collections, as the most reliable indicator of the likelihood of a return on their investment. The EBITDA method can be considered a price to earnings method. The question here is how much is the buyer willing to pay for each dollar of free-and-clear net earnings?

This method is trickier because determining your debt-free earnings is not as simple. Also, the range for the multiplier for EBITDA is much wider (you can see anywhere between two and 18 as the correct multiplier) and more variable by practice type. For a solo practice, a reasonable multiplier might be three-to-four times. For a multi-doctor practice, in might be four-to-five times. For a multi-location practice, it might be five-to-six times. And for a group practice with infrastructure and scalability, it could be six times and up from there.

When we apply the EBITDA method to our above hypothetical, you can see both the difference and the advantage of this method. If a dental practice for sale has $1m in collections and 60% overhead (which is about average for a dental practice), its EBITDA is $400,000. But, what if a practice has an above average amount of overhead? If a practice has $1m in collections but 75% overhead (if, say, the practice has more employees than it needs or the doctor pays themselves a hefty salary), the EBITDA is only $250,000. The multiplier of collections would place both practices at the same value, however, the second practice is clearly worth less than the first.

The Rest of the Story

There are two major factors that are not accounted for in either of these models. First, as mentioned previously, there are all kinds of variables that impact value outside of the information used in either of these valuation methods, including:

  • Location
  • Product mix
  • Payer mix
  • Fee schedules
  • Referral rates
  • New patient acquisition
  • Fixed assets
  • Whether office is leased or owned
  • Cosmetic appearance of the office
  • How modern or well-maintained is the equipment
  • Availability of financing and current interest rates
  • Transition plan (whether seller will stay on for a period)
  • Community goodwill and how well that will translate to the buyer

All of these things will impact the value that both the buyer and seller will place on the dental practice for sale. Which brings us to the second factor: market value. At the end of the day, a practice is worth whatever it can bring from an open market. All of the valuation methods are simply ways to try and reach an agreed upon range from which negotiations can start.

We Work for You to Get What You Want for Your Dental Practice for Sale

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, our goal is to help you meet your dental practice transition goals and get a deal that you think is fair. As part of our Trusted Transition Process, we work with you by discussing the current local dental practice transition marketplace, help establish the best transition options for your practice, and suggest improvements and investment options that will result in a real return in the sale. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment.

Considering DSOs and Private Equity Groups When Putting a Dental Office for Sale

In the world of dental practice transitions, there is a lot of talk these days about the increasing role of corporate dentistry. If you are wondering whether you should consider these options as you put your dental office for sale, it’s important to understand what these options are, what they aren’t, and how they are different.

Dental Service Organizations

Dental service organizations (DSOs) are management companies which own and run multiple practices. Examples include Heartland, with over 800 locations across 36 states, and Aspen Dental Management, with more than 650 locations. A DSO will have their own methods, meaning they’ll have a management organization, fee schedule, staffing requirements, and other business tools that they’ll want to impose on your office. Uniformity is part of the key to success, replicating the functioning of one office across many. If they have a good model, theoretically, a DSO can smoothly run a practice from a business standpoint and not get in the way of providing quality care.

If you sell to a DSO, you become an employee. This can be a good option for a dentist looking at retirement, but not quite ready to give up the game. You can still provide treatment for your patients, receive a salary and benefits, but not have to deal with as much of the business or administrative side of things that takes up your time after office hours. If you are looking to cut back hours or responsibilities, this can be a good option.

If your concern is getting the most money out of your practice, a DSO can similarly be a good choice. A DSO will have deeper pockets and easier access to more financing than a private buyer. And, given that a DSO typically has a long term goal of expansion into additional markets, seeing the gains from their economies of scale, they may be willing to outbid private sellers.

The downside may be your legacy and possibly losing the goodwill of your patients and community. You’ve worked all of your career to build a successful business. If you use a dental practice broker, such as ddsmatch Southwest, when you put your dental office for sale, we use our expertise to help identify a buyer with a strong skill set and personality match that will carry on the practice and legacy you have worked so hard to build.

While a DSO is staffed with real people, who care about the treatment they provide, their doctors are merely employees with a limited ability to respond outside of the corporation’s practices and policies. How much this is an issue is a personal determination that will vary from practice to practice. If you want to consider offers from DSOs, you are still well-advised to retain a dental practice broker as the issues that arise in the sale to a private buyer are mostly the same as the ones involved in selling to a DSO.

Private Equity Groups

By contrast, private equity groups typically don’t buy practices, they invest in them. Private equity groups are investment management companies that provide financial backing, as an investment tool, in either startups or operating business. A private equity firm generally doesn’t have an interest in being involved in day-to-day operations. Rather, they are looking for a return on an investment.

A common mistake people make when thinking about private equity investments is believing that the investor is looking for a return from the practice’s existing cash flow: that the investment is given in return for a percentage of the current earnings. If that were the case, private equity investing would not be a good investment tool. Why would you need an investor if you already are making enough profit? Private equity investors are not satisfied with your practice’s status quo. Rather, the investor sees an opportunity for growth and wants you to expand your practice with their equity.

Therefore, rather than selling your practice, you are, in effect, becoming a manager of the private equity group’s investment. Their investment gives them leverage over you to expand your practice. If you are looking to expand, this can be a good way to do it, rather than financing through a bank and increasing your debt load. You can greatly increase the value of your practice, the return on which you will reap when it does come time to sell. If you aren’t interested in becoming a business manager over a group of practices, then private equity investing is not a good way to go.

Currently, there is a merging of DSOs and private equity, with investors seeing DSOs as a field ready for harvest. In March 2018, Heartland Dental announced that a private equity firm had acquired a 58% stake in the company, in which it was valued at $2.8 billion. Other private equity groups have made investments in DSOs, but the jury is still out on whether Heartland Dental will be “a kind of Walgreens for the dentistry business” or whether the company is overvalued and overleveraged.

Is it a Good Idea to Sell to a DSO?

Again, this comes down to some very personal choices that must be carefully considered when you put your dental office for sale. While the ADA put the number of doctors working in DSOs at about 7.4% in 2017, it noted that for younger doctors (ages 21-34), that number jumped to 16.3%.  Doctors are leaving dental school with unprecedented amounts of student loan debt, which can make banks worry about financing for the purchase of a practice, especially when the doctor is lacking hand speed and production capabilities that only come with time and practice. The bank wants to make sure it gets its return, too. Young doctors are finding a safe bet is to join an existing practice to gain that experience, and DSOs can give them that time while offering a potential to build equity in the practice.

On the other hand, DSOs have gotten themselves into trouble with practices that indicate they may be more concerned about their bottom line than responsible treatment and ethical practices. Earlier this decade, a U.S. Senate investigation determined that some DSOs were providing unnecessary treatment to children to collect more from Medicaid. Also, early last year Benevis LLC, which operates Kool Smiles clinics in several states, settled with the U.S. Department of Justice and paid a fine of $23.9 million plus interest for submitting false Medicaid claims.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You Get What You Want When You Put Your Dental Office for Sale

At ddsmatch Southwest, we take the experience of hundreds of successful dental practice transitions from all across the country and put it to work for you. As seen here, there are a lot of tough questions about how to get to where you want to be when you put your dental office for sale. We can help you review your options, look at the benefits and drawbacks of each, and offer unbiased advice about what choice is most likely to get you to your goal. Our definition of a successful deal is not just one where papers are signed and money changes hands. It’s one where the parties walk away happy, feeling like they got a good deal. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you.

Are You Thinking About Selling Your Dental Practice? You Should Be

If you aren’t thinking about selling your dental practice, you should be. We’re not saying you should sell it now. Rather, you should be thinking about when that day does come and what you can do now to be better positioned to maximize your practice’s value. Here, we’ll discuss some things that you can do to start preparing, no matter where you are at in your career.

Start Planning Early

We all hope to be able to retire on our own schedule, but life often has other plans in mind for us. Should you become ill or injured, should you fall prey to a repetitive motion disorder, you may find the time to sell your dental practice arriving sooner than you think. And while we are not advocating you should assume the worst, the fact is that dentists who are compelled to sell their practice on a short timeline (less than one year) are more likely to get less than the actual value of their practice.

Conventional wisdom puts planning for a dental practice sale at a minimum of between two to four years. Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we say that if you think you are five years or less out from retirement, it’s a good time to have your practice evaluated by an outside consultant who can advise you on any changes or upgrades that will bring you a return in the sale. For doctors in that five year range, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment.

Starting early has a couple of benefits. First, you need to realistically consider how long the transition will take. It’s not just about doing a bit of spit-and-polish, signing papers, and handing over the keys. Depending on your practice and the buyer, you may want (or need) to stay on for a period to help the buyer transition into the practice. If you’re counting the days until you can spend your days on the golf course, keep this in mind.

Also, some of the upgrades you may need to make for your practice to be reasonably attractive to a buyer may take time to implement (if you have issues with your patient base) or to make profitable (if you need to upgrade equipment or software). If your upgrades are expensive, or require a learning curve, you need sufficient time before they stop costing you money and start earning you money.

Don’t Mentally Retire Before You Actually Retire

The closer those last days or weeks or months get, the more tempting it may be to start easing into retirement. Don’t. When the buyer’s bank assesses the value of your practice, they aren’t going to rely on numbers that are five or ten years old. They want to know what the practice is earning right now and in the recent past—one to three years. If you’ve started cutting your hours, referring more work out, cancelling insurance plans, reducing the number of patients, or doing less marketing, you run the risk of devaluing your practice.

Know What Gives Your Practice its Value

This can be summed up in three simple words: active patient records. A nice clean office with up-to-date and well-maintained equipment and a pleasant, professional staff are all great things to have. But, in and of themselves, they have little value without a strong and growing patient base. Most importantly, you need to be able to show a steady stream of work for the 18 months prior to your valuation.

When you sell a dental practice, what you are really selling is you active patient records. This, along with your brand (the practice’s reputation and goodwill in your community) account for 75% or more of your practice’s value. These “intangibles” are by far your most valuable assets. Their value is increased when paired with an efficient business. If you have high overhead costs, you’ll get less than a comparable practice with a better cash flow. The buyer is going to look for a practice that can provide a reasonable income to cover their living expenses after servicing the debt of buying the dental practice. So, a strong active patient base plus good cash flow yields a better sale price.

Some other considerations on increasing cash flow and building value include:

  1. Raising Fees. Too frequently, older doctors are reluctant to raise their fees. Given that profitability is a major driver of a dental practice’s value, you must avoid making this error. Raising your fees each year may be the best way to guarantee increases in collections and profitability, which benefit you both immediately (more income that you get to keep in the practice) and at the time of sale (higher market value). Also, your buyer is going to want to have fees that are in line with the current market but not have to immediately raises fees after the transition, possibly driving away patients.
  2. Overhead. Keep a careful eye on all of your costs. Create a budget each year with specific amounts allocated for each overhead category. Be sure you are aware of current industry standards to make sure you aren’t overpaying for lab or supply costs. If your practice isn’t growing, you cannot afford to give annual cost of living raises. If this is the case, you may instead consider bonuses that are tied to increased collections. The lower your overhead, the greater your profitability, and, therefore, the higher your market value will be.
  3. Keep marketing. Just because you are retiring doesn’t mean your practice is going stop running. It might surprise you to learn how often doctors approaching retirement will cut back on marketing efforts or stop them altogether. As discussed above, the lending bank wants to know how your practice is performing right now and in the more recent past. You need your numbers to be on a consistent upward trend. A dip at the end will be a red flag that the practice has a problem. Also, make sure that you are keeping up with modern marketing trends. Your first efforts should be on referrals. But you should also update your website, invest in online marketing tools (search engine optimization, or SEO, to make sure you show up in online searches), and get patient reviews on Facebook and Google and post them on your own website.
  4. Update your office and technology. If you are closer to retirement (under two years) you can make cosmetic improvements to your office. First impressions matter (and ongoing impressions matter to your patients). If you have more time, you should consider your equipment and technology. Your buyer will likely be young and more familiar with the latest technology. However, you will need time with new tech to learn and become proficient. Once you do, however, it can bring you a return by increasing your patient flow and your treatment acceptance rates. These, in turn, will be reflected in your books as increases in profitability.

 

 

Think About the Impact of a Transition Plan on the Practice

When selling a dental practice, it’s common for the seller to stay on for a period of time. If your buyer is not already working in your practice (such as an associate or partner), this means the practice will have to support an additional doctor. You need to consider how that will impact cash flow and any existing practice debt, and whether you have sufficient revenue to support another doctor. The bank will certainly consider this when determining whether its willing to finance the purchase. These details need to be carefully considered but may be hard to predict, as what the buyer wants will impact how long you need to stay on, if at all.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You Sell Your Dental Practice

At ddsmatch Southwest, we bring the experience of hundreds of successful dental practice transitions, of all types and from across the country, and put it to work for you. We use that experience to help you identify a buyer with a strong skill set and personality match that will carry on the practice and legacy you have worked so hard to build. We ensure that every detail is covered, help you avoid common mistakes, and ensure no step is overlooked.  Plus, your confidentiality is always guaranteed. Contact us today and find out how we can help you meet your practice transition goals.

What to Look for & Look Out for in Buying a Dental Practice

Buying a dental practice will be one of the biggest—if not the biggest—decision of your career. It’s also the biggest risk, so it will pay, in both the short and long run, for you to be careful, get reliable professional advice, and do all of your due diligence. This is because, absent an ability to show fraud, once the practice keys are in your hands, there will be very little you can do about any overlooked details. And this landmark moment will cast a long shadow over your career.

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, while we represent the interests of our client, we view a successful transition as one where both the buyer and seller are happy with the terms and outcome of the deal. Most frequently we represent sellers (although we also have services for buyers and dental associates) but we think it’s important for those looking to buy a dental practice to know what they should look for, and what they should look out for, when considering a dental practice for sale.

What to Look for When Buying a Dental Practice

The Practice’s Financials

This might seem obvious, but it can also be complicated. It’s not just so simple as reviewing a profit and loss statement. You should expect to be provided with all recent financial statements and tax documents, along with the records of expenses for things like payroll, employee benefits, insurance premiums, continuing education, and reimbursements. You want to be able to know what percentage of collections is covering the practices overhead. That is, what does it really cost to run this practice?

The Practice’s Valuation

The seller will give you a number of what they think the practice is worth. You need to know how they reached that conclusion (the valuation method) and what are the bases of that valuation. Don’t be satisfied with the prior year’s cash flow, or a few recent years’ of cash flow. You should be prepared to review the entire history of the practice. That will tell you the whole story. For more on valuation methods, see our post “How Much is My Dental Practice for Sale Worth?

The Practice’s Brand and Goodwill

While the financial numbers are quantifiable, and easy to evaluate if properly recorded, the intangible assets—the practice’s reputation in the community and how closely it is tied to the selling dentist—are major factors in the practice’s overall value. This can be determined by looking at patient records which will show you patient retention, patient turnover, new patient referrals. These are indicators that the practice is viewed positively in the community.

Relatedly, when buying a dental practice, you need to know how the selling dentist intends to transfer that goodwill to you. This may or may not be something the selling dentist has thought about. It may mean that the selling dentist will want (or need) to stay on for a while to ease patients through the transition. How this works will vary from practice to practice. It’s a good idea to retain your own consultant or broker to help evaluate this and give recommendations of what will work best.

If the selling dentist is not retiring, you may need to obtain a non-compete agreement to keep the patients from being syphoned off.

The Practice’s Patient Base

In addition to what is discussed above, it’s a good idea to look at things such as the types of insurance the practice accepts and how many patients are with each plan, the patient demographics (older patients or young families, for instance), and how patients are retained. This information can help you project future cash flow.

What are the Seller’s Plans?

Is the selling dentist intending to stay on as an employee or contractor? If so, for how long? Does this match with your vision for the practice? While it is common, you should be wary of a selling dentist who may want to exert control rather that ease transition. However, if the selling dentist doesn’t want to stay on, you should consider whether you will have access to the doctor in case you need to consult regarding past patient treatment plans or accounts receivables.

What to Look Out for When Buying a Dental Practice

Pressure to Rush into Closing

While it may be understandable for a seller to be anxious, do not allow yourself to be rushed. Any step that is skipped will only run to your detriment, not theirs. It’s in your interest to be cautious and take the time necessary to complete all of the due diligence. A seller rushing you into buying a dental practice may be hoping that you’ll overlook a defect. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Seller Refuses to Disclose Information

If a seller refuses to make the requisite disclosures, or suggests you don’t need to see complete sets of records, or otherwise obscures information, it is likely there is something they don’t want you to see. While a dental practice can be a complex operation with legitimate issues of confidentiality, you have absolutely no incentive to overlook any detail, especially those being requested by your team of professionals (lawyer, accountant, business valuator, broker).

Declining Production or Poor Patient Retention and Recall

Sometimes selling doctors cut their hours in anticipation of the practice transition—looking forward to retirement, for instance. While this is not the best practice, it does happen. However, if there is declining production, be sure to determine the cause and make sure there isn’t a larger problem that you will be buying. The same goes for low patient retention and recall numbers. If you see this in the records, you need to know why. If the patients are going to another practice, you need to know where and why. You may want to ask the staff about this—often they have a good sense of patient issues. If the selling dentist won’t give you access to staff, that’s another red flag.

Employee Turnover

There are a lot of factors why employees leave (or are dismissed). But if the practice records indicate an unusually high turnover rate, it could indicate that wages are too low, meaning you may have to increase your payroll and benefits costs. It could also mean that the selling doctor is either poor at hiring or a bad manager. This can have an impact on the practice’s reputation and goodwill, if patients are having negative experiences with the staff.

Overreaching Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)

You should expect to sign an NDA before you get anything but the most basic information about a practice. For a variety of reasons, the selling doctor has a strong incentive to not let it be know the practice is for sale. However, if the NDA includes terms such as trying to establish an exclusive relationship with you as a prospective buyer or imposes an unethical requirement prohibiting you from looking at other practices for sale, you should not sign. When buying a dental practice, you need to keep all of your options open.

ddsmatch Southwest has Experience Matching those Buying a Dental Practice with The Right Seller.

When we look for the right buyer for our sellers, we consider your lifestyle and location goals, clinical skills, personality, and professional needs before we present you with a confidential list of sellers seeking to transition out of practice or bring on a new partner or associate. The ideal ddsmatch Southwest buyer candidate will have a comparable clinical skill set as the seller, associate experience, a desire to reside long-term in the geographical area of the practice, and requisite financial qualifications. If you are considering buying a dental practice in Texas or New Mexico, contact us today to review our extensive network of dental practices.

Build Value Before Putting Your Dental Office for Sale

There are typically two phases a dentist goes through when thinking about the value of their own dental practice. The first comes early, when a dentist is concerned with take home income—that is, “How much can I earn right now?”  The second comes later, when the doctor begins to think about transitioning the practice. Then the doctor is concerned with “What is my practice worth?” The fact is, however, many things that determine what the practice is worth are built in early in a doctor’s career. Here are some important things to consider early on that will pay off when you are ready to put your dental office for sale.

Your Value is in Your Brand

“Brand” is a hot buzzword right now, as social media influencers are concerned about their personal brands. This sort of talk can be annoying. But remember what a brand actually is. It began as a mark to identify livestock (and, later, goods in commercial markets) to denote ownership and deter theft. Presently, the term has broadened to encompass an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its competitors. For a dentist, it can be your own name, but it’s really about the good name your practice has, and your reputation among your patients, and in the community.

A strong brand is important for a dental practice for the purpose of attracting and keeping patients. Without it, it’s unlikely a practice will have a strong patient base. And while you may look at your practice and see deep patient files, lots of new patients each month, high referral and case acceptance rates, and a full appointment book scheduled out for several weeks, what you really have to offer when you put your dental office for sale, is a strong brand. That is what the buyer is paying money for.

This is important to consider early in your practice because you want a strong brand that is not explicitly tied to your name. If you open an office as John Doe, DDS, built a solid reputation of goodwill in the community, and are known as a provider of excellent care and quality service, what will happen when John Doe is no longer part of the practice? Patients will find a new dentist (studies have shown that up to 40% of patients will leave under these circumstances). Buyers know this and may not be willing to pay as much for a practice that is too explicitly bound up with a single dentist’s identity.

While you want to be known as a good dentist, it’s more important for the life of your practice to survive some inevitable patient attrition after the practice transition. This can be easy to address early in one’s career, when one’s name is less well known. However, even for established dentists, rebranding to a more general practice name that leverages existing affinities in the community is not a risky move and can get your more when you transition your practice.  For instance, in Farmington, Utah, a historic hotel built from stone was refurbished and operated as “Rock Hotel Dentistry” to build on existing goodwill in the town’s pioneer heritage. Consider local affinities you can leverage in building your own brand.

Be Properly Organized as a Business

In a large corporation, each department has a head. In a small business, too often the owner tries to do it all. The fact is, as a practicing dentist, you can’t. You simply don’t have the time. This is why it’s important to have a solid organization with clear lines of responsibility and a consistent monitoring program, or else you’ll find details being overlooked and balls being dropped.

How you organize may be unique to your circumstance. However, you need to have structures organized for every aspect of your clinical care, operations, accounting, marketing, and personnel. You, of course, remain CEO and are ultimately responsible for everything. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage your staff’s skills or outsource things such as marketing and accounting.

On the point of accounting, it’s more important than ever to have a solid set of well-organized and detailed financial records. Buyers are not content with a simple report of production and collections. They now want to review earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), gross margins, assets, the lease agreement, and patient base. As with every aspect of your organization, the more prepared you are (and the sooner you start), the more likely you are to get what your practice is worth when your put your dental office for sale.

Once you have a smoothly running operation, it’s important to regularly review each part to see where you can refine processes and update your business systems. In part, you want buyers to be impressed with your efficiency and organization. But, importantly, this can translate into higher profits for your and a more quantifiable increase in value for buyers. In a study by Deloitte, businesses that use state-of-the-art business and human resource systems can average cost savings of 22% per employee. That kind of cost savings can be passed along through the practice transition, making your practice more valuable.

On the same point, up-to-date systems for re-care and reactivation will ease the transition for the new dentist, an attractive selling point. You can do the same with automated systems for submitted claims and receiving payments from insurance providers. For more one this, read our recent article about how back-office automation can build value for your practice.

Leave Profits in the Business

A common practice among small business owners is to pay the employees, pay the bills, and take the rest home. This might seem like a good idea in the short term, however, what it’s really doing is obscuring how profitable your practice is for potential buyers.

A better practice is to pay yourself a salary just as you would an associate, typically about 30% of collectable production. This makes your take home pay a predictable recurring expense, with the remainder of your practice’s net income as profit. Your numbers will be more clear and concise, with the value of the practice more easily ascertained—the profitability will be easily quantified in your financial records, how you need it to be when it’s time to show them to potential buyers.

Also, this method makes a clearer distinction between you, personally, and your practice as a business organization. This is important because, first, you don’t want to have a murky and confusing set of books to open to potential buyers. But, more importantly, the protections that come from limited liability are lost when the owners commingle business and personal funds and expenses.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You Prepare Your Dental Office for Sale

If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, ddsmatch Southwest offers a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment. During this assessment, we find out your goals for your practice transition and offer professional, experienced advice on how to best prepare to sell your dental practice, including potential investments or improvements to increase value. We never advise a doctor to change for the sake of change, but only where we see areas that will add value in a sale.

Contact us today and arrange for your free Practice Transition Assessment.

Plan To Sell a Dental Practice?

The short answer is, much sooner than you probably think. The long answer is that it depends. Because of the variables involved, no two dental practice transitions are alike. However, a good rule of thumb is that you want to start actively planning for selling a dental practice around ten years before you think you want to retire. Below, we’ll discuss some of the variables and break the timeline down a little bit to give you a better idea of what you should think about doing and when.

Variables Impacting Transition Timelines

Dentist Take-Home Pay

While dentists regularly show up on the list of highest paying jobs in the U.S., you probably don’t need us to tell you that how this actually translates into money in your own pocket can vary widely. For instance, the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report the median salary for a dentist is $158,000. That number will go up and down in real life depending on where you practice and what kind of work you do (oral surgeons and orthodontists have markedly higher median salaries at $208,000 and up, while general dentists come in slightly lower, at just over $151,000).

Also, consider in a private practice how your collections vary from year to year. And, like most small businesses, your earnings ebb and flow with the larger economic well being of your community (consider the frequency with which you are asked to negotiate on fees with patients who may be experiencing financial difficulties).

If your potential buyers are fresh out of dental school, you need to consider that the costs of education, and subsequent debt load, is rising. The class of 2018 reported an average student loan debt of $251,869 (public universities) and $236,133 (private universities). When combined with the financing to purchase your practice, this is a significant amount of debt for a new dentist to have to manage. They’ll need to carefully consider what they need to realistically earn to stay afloat and whether the practice they are looking to buy has a record of consistent collections.

Location of the Practice

This is, at its most basic level, a consideration of small towns and rural areas versus urban and suburban markets. Urban centers have more people and, therefore, more potential buyers. In an urban area, once a qualified buyer is located, a dental practice transition close in six to twelve weeks after the practice is valued. In a rural area, it can sometimes take two to three years before a qualified buyer is even located. This is not even considering the economic health of your community: whether its a growing city, a shrinking town, an area that has lost major job providers, etc. The stronger your local economy, the faster you’ll probably be able to sell. However, you can have problems at the other end of the spectrum as well. A highly successful practice that is worth a high sale price may be out of reach to most buyers.

When the Dentist Thinks They Will Retire

According to a 2010 ADA survey, dentists under 40 years of age reported that they anticipated retiring at the average age of 61. Dentists over 40, however, reported that they anticipated retiring at the age of 67. A possible reason for the change is the more experience a dentist has, the more they realize what is involved in retiring and what has to be done to get ready when selling a dental practice. For this reason, the idea of planning your transition ten years out might seem like too much, but, when you are inside that process, you’ll understand.

Planning for Selling a Dental Practice

No matter how far off you think you are from retirement, thinking about the recommendations below will never hurt. And even if you inside ten, or five, or two years from transitioning your dental practice, there are things you can do to prepare that will add value and help you get the best price you can get.

Ten Years (or More) from Dental Practice Transition

This is a good time to consider your equipment and office technology. Replacing equipment and making high-tech upgrades can be costly. If you are closer to retirement, these costs may not be worthwhile for you. This is because, first, you need time to be able to pay off the equipment. Second, you need time to become proficient on the new equipment or software before you and your staff become more efficient in a way that is reflected in your earnings.

Costly equipment and technological upgrades only build value once you own the equipment outright and its earning you more money. If you don’t have the time for this kind of investment, you shouldn’t do it, as it can eat away at your bottom line in the short term. If you do have the time, it’s a good idea to bring your office up-to-date.

Five to Ten Years from Dental Practice Transition

First, you should plan on reducing your specialty procedures, making your practice as mainstream as you are able to by about five years out from your practice transition. Second, you should consider whether the improved efficiency from your equipment and tech upgrades allows you to keep more things in-house—are there things you referred out that you now have time and equipment to keep (e.g. making crowns)? Keeping more production in-house allows you to keep that money in-house as well.

Additionally, you should look at each aspect of your office and consider where your processes and procedures could be refined or made more efficient. If you haven’t done so already, it’s imperative that you switch to a digital record system, taking your office paperless. No young dentist is going to find an old fashioned filing system appealing. Rather, it will look like an old relic (which it is) that they have to deal with (which they won’t want to do).

This is also a good time to bring in a dental practice consultant to review your practice and give advice on how it could be improved and additional adjustments that could impact valuation before you try and sell your dental practice. Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment aimed at dentists who are five years out from transition. In our assessment, we look at your local market, suggest physical and image improvements, advise on potential investments to increase value, review present and future staffing integration, and help you establish the best transition options for your practice.

Two to Five Years from Dental Practice Transition

Here you want to look at your fees and determine where you can raise them. A good place to be is within the 80th percentile in your market for comparable procedures and services. Consider ways to increase your patient base or services. However, again, avoid adding specialty procedures. At this point, you don’t realistically have the time to be properly trained and gain the experience to be competitive.

You should also review your staff salaries and consider whether they are both fair for your local job market, and whether they adequately reflect each staff member’s qualifications and abilities. If your staff salaries are too low, you risk losing good employees. Staff turnover this late in the game can signal problems in the practice to potential buyers and can negatively impact patient retention (after all, patients interact more with staff than with you). Conversely, if your salaries are too high, that will reflect lost value in your practice. Experienced and reliable staff who feel valued are most likely to stay through transition, which will be an important selling point for buyers.

At this point, you should no longer consider expensive equipment or extensive remodeling. Instead, your focus should be on cosmetic improvements, like flooring and paint. Look closely at your office, and solicit input from your staff, for wear and tear that can be easily—and inexpensively—repaired. Your goal here is to make a good first impression on your buyer with a well-tended office.

Less than Two Years from Dental Practice Transition

If you haven’t already, now is the time to retain a dental transition expert. Whomever you get should be experienced, with a solid track record of successful transitions and happy clients. A good transition broker can help you put together the team you need (business valuator, lawyer) and make the final preparations for selling a dental practice.

Put ddsmatch Southwest’s Experience to Work for You

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we bring the experience of hundreds of successful transitions from all across the country, in all kinds of markets, and put it to work for you. The proof of this are in the testimonials from our many satisfied clients. Your goals are our goals. Contact us today and find out how we can help you meet your practice transition goals.

Why Consider a Dental Service Org?

The career path for a dentist can seem fairly predictable. You graduate from dental school, maybe work as an associate for a while, but, ultimately, you open or buy your own office as a sole practitioner. Maybe you partner with other dentists to share administrative costs, but you essentially run your own business. That’s long been the goal. And when it’s time to retire, you’ll put your dental office for sale to another sole practitioner.

Increasingly, however, dental offices for sale are being bought by DSOs (dental service organizations). So, rather than sell to another, younger doctor, you may find yourself fielding offers from a corporate buyer. While some doctors may not relish the idea of the practice they’ve built by hand (and their patients) being consumed by what they perceive as a faceless entity, the fact is that DSOs are both increasingly common and meeting needs for both patients and doctors that aren’t provided by the traditional sole practitioner model.

What a DSO Does

A DSO is, in essence, a management system. Typically, they are organized for the benefit of investors who see buying dental practices as a good investment, but they can also be used by doctors who want to merge several practices together to operate as a single entity.

Traditionally, a sole practitioner manages every aspect of their practice, from treatment to cleaning the bathrooms. However, with growing interest from investors, a more structured business model is necessary in order to manage multiple practices. A DSO wants to ensure consistency of quality and service across all of its offices, therefore, it cannot simply rely on the on-site staff to make sure it’s done according to the right standard.

The Benefits of DSOs for Doctors

First, some doctors simply prefer to let someone else handle the business side while they put their focus on treatment. A DSO provides a qualified and knowledgeable business office to take care of the administrative matters, allowing doctors to put their time into seeing patients and not having a competing burden on their time.

Second, as an aging dentist nears retirement, they may consider bringing on an associate who will eventually buy the practice. If, however, the doctor does not have enough patients to support an associate, this will not be possible. Also, young dentists are increasingly saddled with large amounts of student loan debt and are looking for associateships before going out on their own. A DSO can solve both problems.

By selling a dental practice to a DSO, the older doctor is able to transition the practice—it can be an outright sale or the doctor can continue to work in the practice, depending on the doctor’s goals. And, by spreading costs across several locations, the DSO can afford to bring on an associate, perhaps working at more than one local office.

The younger dentist then has the option of remaining with the DSO for their career or, when the time is right, to branch out on their own with the requisite experience. Additionally, for younger dentists who were trained on more modern equipment, working in a DSO may be an easier transition into their career, as they will be more likely to have up-to-date technology than an office where a doctor has been practicing for decades.

The Benefits of DSOs for Patients

DSOs can benefit patients in a couple of ways, some more directly than others. DSOs are more likely to be a modern facility with generalists and specialists in a single office, making it easier and more appealing to get necessary care. Also, DSO offices are more likely to be open later in the afternoon or evening and on weekends, which can be critical for patients who lack flexibility in their schedules.

DSOs are also more likely to use a variety of marketing techniques, allowing them to reach more patients. And, DSOs typically make their services available through wider networks and have attractive treatment financing options. This means that people who haven’t been to a dentist for a long time may be enticed to get care, even if they previously believed it was unavailable or unaffordable. In this way, DSOs can benefit an underserved patient base.

DSOs Have Strength Through Scaling

The current trend with dental insurance companies is to either maintain or reduce their schedules of fee allowances. While your costs are going up, they payout in effectively reduced either way, it’s just a matter of by how much. A DSO with several offices will have leverage that a sole practitioner doesn’t to negotiate more favorable payouts.

Also, instead of having 20 dentists absorbing costs individually, DSOs get the benefit of purchasing in bulk, more widespread marketing, and can offer better benefits packages to employees. Some are even creating their own continuing education programs and are able to bring in well-known presenters for workshops and seminars.

Why Consider a DSO When You Put Your Dental Office for Sale

The current trend in the dental industry appears to be tracking that of the larger medical industry. MSOs (medical service organizations) have been acquiring hospitals and practices for some time, changing how medicine is practiced. Currently, hospitals own many medical practices and most physicians work for hospitals. As with most changes, there is some good and some bad. Be certain, however, the trend will continue whether you like it or not. Depending on who you ask, there are projections that DSOs will own about 30% of practices in the next 10 years, possibly growing to 50% in the decade after than.

For a dentist looking at transitioning their practice, however, this can be very good news. When you put your dental office for sale, there are a lot of things to think about, but a big one is how much can you sell for. DSOs will have the deepest pockets and, with a long term strategy, may be willing to outbid other fair offers.

In addition, though, many doctors may want to turn over the business end to someone else and spend their last year or two or more focused solely on patient care. A DSO can be a good option as you will be able to ease into retirement without having to worry about things like:

  • Bookkeeping and payroll
  • Personnel issues
  • Marketing
  • Collections and billing
  • IT concerns
  • Anything else that isn’t clinical

While laws governing corporate ownership of dental offices vary from state to state, one constant is that clinical decisions remain the doctor’s responsibility, including the ability to plan and recommend treatment, and patient records are owned by the doctor. (We acknowledge that there are rumors to the contrary, an issue beyond the scope of this article. Any DSO that is meddling in patient care should be reported to the state board of dentistry.)

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help Find the Right Buyer for Your Dental Practice

While getting a fair price for your practice is a big concern, we here at ddsmatch Southwest know its not your only concern. DSOs can be a good fit for some practice transitions, but not for everyone. Your goals are our goals. We will take the time to learn what you are looking for in a buyer—or help you figure it out if you’re not sure—so you can go into the next phase of life knowing that your practice is in good hands.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment and find out how we can help you.

Why Are You Selling Your Dental Office?

There was a reason you went to to dental school. You wanted to go, prepared, got accepted, went, graduated, and began to practice. That takes a lot of internal motivation sustained over a long period of time to achieve a difficult end.

What was your motivation? Have you lost sight of it?

When you come into the office each day, do you look forward to your work? Or does one day blur into another, punctuated only by fluctuations of stress?

Put simply, when you think about putting your dental office for sale, is it with a sense of accomplishment? Or is it with longing for relief?

To be sure, being a dentist and running your own office is stressful. In addition to dental care, in any given day, you may also have to be a bookkeeper, a human resources office, and a general manager. No one is invested like you are. It can create a sense of being all on your own, and you’re not alone if you feel a little lost under the burden.

If you’ve lost your sense of purpose, it will affect every aspect of your practice—starting with your staff and bleeding out to your patients. Once patients sense it, they will be less likely to return.

But, you can regain the sense of purpose that you once had. In fact, you must if you want to maintain the long term success for your practice.  The good news is, while turning this sort of ennui around isn’t the easiest thing in the world, you might be surprised to find a few simple things will set you back on a path you feel good about.

Remember Why You Did This

Think back to when you first decided to go to dental school. What were your reasons? Think about your education. How did that change your purpose and sense of your future?

Finally, think back to when you graduated and were preparing to start, join, or buy your own practice. Why did you want to do that? What did you imagine it would be like?

Those last two questions may be the most important. The reason why you wanted your own practice is still there. The problem is probably in the disconnect between what you thought it would be like, and how it is in reality. Take time to consider that just because something turned out differently than you expected, doesn’t necessarily mean its gone wrong.

Once you’ve remembered your purpose, consider where you are at now. What’s good about your practice? You have to have an accurate sense of both the positive and negative to make an objective assessment of your practice’s success.

Like many people, maybe you tend to look at what’s wrong over what’s right, and the human brain is wired this way.  But in the modern world, happiness depends on taking time to appreciate all of the parts that make up the whole.

Once you have a sense of what’s working, then consider what isn’t. If the problems are easily identified, they are probably more easily solved with actions such as creating new office practices or policies, or by replacing or training staff.

If the problems are harder to pin down—indicating a more systemic problem—consider bringing in a business consultant to assess your practice and make recommendations. Often an outside observer can view the situation more objectively, putting them in a better position to identify what works and what doesn’t.

Consider having one-on-one conversations with your staff to get their perspective on where things are at. It’s important to do this one-on-one, rather than in a staff meeting. It takes more time, but you’ll be sure to get everyone’s input and they’ll speak more freely.

Once you’ve done these assessments, reconsider your original purpose. Is the way your practice is operating moving you toward that purpose, or away from it? Is the purpose still relevant?  

Have the ways you’ve changed personally, especially after experiencing dentistry as a practicing doctor, changed?  What it is you really want to accomplish? If so, consciously revise your purpose.

All of this is to make sure you are on course to achieve what you set out to accomplish (or move you toward your new goal). As noted above, a practice without purpose is likely to suffer.

When you put your dental practice for sale at the end of your career, you want to see that you are transitioning your practice at its peak, not when its fizzled out. Once you know what’s going well and what needs to be changed, you can create a plan to right the wrongs and move forward in a positive direction.

It Takes a Village (or, at Least, Your Staff and Advisors)

Once you’ve reengaged or revised your career purpose, you need to bring your team on board. You team includes all of your employees, your outside professionals (accountants, lawyers, consultants, etc.), and your informal advisors— those colleagues, friends, and family that you trust and rely on for advice.

Just as you can’t run the whole practice by yourself, you won’t be able to course-correct your office to meet your purpose by yourself. When you are discussing changes with staff, they need to understand the “why” behind the change so they’ll be bought-in. If the staff doesn’t understand the “why,” they’ll be more reluctant.

There is no need for anything but transparency here. In fact, staff can be more motivated by the idea that they are contributing to the success of the office—feeling like an important part of positive change, rather than just a replaceable cog in a system.

Another benefit of enlisting your team is that it forces you to clearly articulate your purpose and your goals for achieving that purpose. You’ll find out how well thought out your ideas and plans are. Gaps will be illuminated and can be filled in at an early stage rather than later when a problem arises.

You’ll also get feedback from your team. Are they enthusiastic or skeptical? That can indicate a sense of how realistic your plans are. Skepticism doesn’t necessarily mean your plan isn’t good, it may just be missing some intermediary steps to get from A to B before you can get to C, D, E, and so on.

Career Goals Impact Post-Career Goals

We’ve discussed your purpose for your career, however, there is something important that is largely depended on your career success— what happens after you put your dental practice for sale.

You can’t practice forever. You probably don’t want to. How do you envision your retirement? Where will you live? How will you live? What will you have to enjoy once you’ve set down your handset for the last time?

Being able to choose how you live in retirement is dependent on building value in your practice now. If you have an idea in mind of where you’d like to end up, you need to map out a clear path to get there. Without a path to follow, who knows where you’ll end up? Regardless of where you are in your career, it’s not too late to start charting that course. And it’s never too early.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help Prepare Your Dental Office for Sale

If you are in the later stage of your career, you can benefit from a Practice Transition Assessment. This is a free service offered with no obligation and designed for doctors considering transitioning their practice in the next five years.

As part of this assessment, we will discuss with you the the current local dental practice transition marketplace and help you identify the best transition options for your practice. We will suggest practice physical and image improvements and advise on potential practice investments to increase value. This will help you understand where your practice stands and where you can get it to before placing your dental office for sale. Contact us today and find out how we can help you achieve your purpose.

Key Elements to Selling a Dental Practice

No doubt about it, transitioning your practice is the culmination of a lifetime of work, the capstone to your career. It’s a bittersweet time. It’s hard to hand what you’ve spent decades building, over to someone who, however qualified and well-intentioned, will not run it the way you did. But, reaping the reward of all of that hard work, and enjoying the proceeds, can be a rewarding time of life. With all of this, you don’t need any unnecessary stress. When it comes to selling a dental practice, there is already quite a bit of stress that is unavoidable.

The good news is, there are also a lot of stress factors that can be avoided. With planning and the right team surrounding you, your transition can be much easier than it would be otherwise. Below, we’ll discuss a couple of factors that can make all the difference between a smooth transition, and a disaster.

Set Your Goals

The first thing is to determine what it is that you want out of your transition. While the sale price is certainly a major factor, it’s hardly the only one. How do you want to sell? An outright sale where you get cash for the full amount and hand over the keys? A buy-in where you work with an associate who purchases the practice over time? Do you want to stay in the practice for a while after the sale, or do you want to hand over the keys and walk away? What kind of buyer are you looking for? One with the deepest pockets, or one who will best take care of your legacy and your staff? These questions need to be considered carefully in order to ensure the practice transition is the one you want, on the terms that matter most to you.

Once you have your team (more on that below), discuss your goals with them. Get feedback from your advisors, your family, other doctors you know who’ve had good (or bad) transitions. This will help greatly to clarify what is best for you and your practice, and will be invaluable to getting you to the goals you set for the transition. Also, your advisors need to know what they are working toward, or they can’t help you get there.

Plan Ahead

If you haven’t guessed already, a practice transition is a complicated process that balances several factors, some of which may be competing, and no two transitions look alike. Because of this, there is no such thing as “too soon” to start thinking about it. A good rule of thumb, however, is five years ahead of any transition. When you think you are less than five years away from selling a dental practice, you should have your practice assessed for transition.

This assessment, by a dental broker or dental business valuator, will give you a sense of the value of your practice. It will also, importantly, give you a better sense of what changes you should consider that can add value to your practice in advance of a sale, and which changes you shouldn’t bother with. Of course, as discussed above, you need to have a sense of how you want to transition your practice before you have it evaluated, as that will factor greatly into what changes you should be thinking about.

When you are at the point where you are ready to move forward with the transition, its essential to pick a firm date to have the transaction completed. There are a lot of details to be worked out—financial, legal, real estate, etc.—and a lot of places where negotiations can get sidetracked. Getting mired in endless discussions about the minutia can be maddening, and create unnecessary stress and frustration, tainting the process. Building in a non-negotiable closing date keeps everyone on track and moving toward the finish line at the right pace. In real estate, this is known as the “time is of the essence” clause, where if a party fails to meet the deadline, the deal is off.

That being said, as mentioned above, every transition is different. There are a lot of factors at play, from the personalities involved, to the location of the practice, and some delay may be inevitable when you put up a dental practice for sale. Texas, for instance, has major city markets and smaller rural areas. Some things happen faster in the big city, where professionals are abundant. But, that also may mean you end up waiting in line with everyone else trying to do the same thing. In a smaller market, you may have fewer options, but sometimes things get done faster where everyone knows everyone else. This is to say, be firm on your closing date, but be flexible if a change in schedule is necessary or possibly even advantageous to you getting what you want out of the deal.

Expert Advice

We’ve mentioned your team a few times already. Who should be on your team? At minimum, you should have a dental attorney, a dental CPA, and a dental broker. These are experts knowledgeable about the particulars of their respective fields specifically as they relate to the dental business in transition.

Why not use your brother-in-law who is a good general attorney? Or a family friend with a great accounting firm? There are two reasons.

First, there are things about the business of dental practice that don’t come into play in other industries. Dental attorneys know what is standard practice for a transition and which parts of your transition may be unique. They’re not going to have to take the time to figure out the nuances of the industry, which reduces your costs, while increasing your protection.

Dental CPAs understand the tax implications of the sale and can advise on how to allocate costs in a way that will be the most advantageous to you, and make sure the money is being handled property. A mistake here could cost you thousands.

A dental broker like ddsmatch Southwest is someone in your corner who has the experience of managing numerous transitions and can walk you through each step of the process. They can also work with the other members of your team, keeping you as involved (or not involved) as much as you want.

And the second reason for a strong team is that this is probably the biggest business dealing you’ve ever been a party to, and will set the stage for the rest of your life. Why take chances? Put experience on your side.

Let ddsmatch Southwest Take the Stress out of Selling a Dental Practice

Too often, the practice transition starts off hopeful, but inexperience becomes an obstruction that can delay or derail the whole process. The ddsmatch Southwest team consists of trusted dental brokers who bring the experience of hundreds of transitions from across the country. Our Trusted Transition Process™ is a proven method to help you meet your goals in putting your dental practice for sale. Texas and New Mexico are our primary markets, but we are happy to refer you to our capable affiliates in other regions.

If you are considering a transition in the next five years, give us a call for a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment. Find out what we can do for you today.

Low-Cost Tech Upgrades Add Value

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a gem of pragmatism. If you’ve built a successful dental practice using a certain set of tools and techniques, why change? Change for the sake of change is not a good argument. If, however, you are considering putting your dental office for sale within the next five years, there are some updates that can increase the value of your practice.

While there is likely nothing wrong with the way that you practice, you should consider that potential buyers are going to be younger than you, and more experienced using newer equipment. When they look at your practice, they will see the value of it as a business, but may also see outdated technology that, while it works just fine, may not be what they are experienced using, and may not be what they envision for a 21st-century dental office.

The question is, which investments in office technology upgrades will bring a return, and which won’t. Here we discuss some high-impact, yet low-cost, technological upgrades that can boost the value of your practice. We’re not talking about a full office remodel, just a few changes that can have a real impact on your practice, and on your patients.

If you are considering transitioning your practice within the next five years, it is also worthwhile to have an outside consultant review your office and make recommendations about other possible value-building updates. Here at ddsmatch Southwest, one of our specialties is consulting with doctors about getting ready to transition their practice, and we can look at the particulars of your practice area to help you get ready to put up your dental practice for sale. San Antonio, TX, for instance, is a very different market than Lubbock, and that needs to be considered. What will bring value in Dallas, might not in Midland.

Digital Radiography: Save Time and Build Goodwill with Your Patients

Digital radiography is a great update to an office that is using X-rays. First, it’s faster than an X-ray. Capturing the image is quick and easy, and it’s available on a computer screen right next to your patient in the dental chair. This makes informed consent and patient education simpler. Patients find it impressive, and they will appreciate not being exposed to radiation. This can be a very pleasant surprise the first time a patient encounters it.

If you are using patient software, you’ll want to check compatibility to make sure whatever digital radiography system you choose will integrate with your existing system. And, while there is a learning curve involved, ultimately, you’ll find that digital radiography will save you time.  And, this time adds up over months and years.

Electric Handpieces: Greater Consistency and Control without the “Drilling Sound”

While you may have developed an immunity to the high-pitched whine of your drill, you can be sure that your patients have not. Few things send a shiver down the spine of dental patients like the dreaded “drilling sound.” Many of the newer electric handpieces are designed to be as close to silent as they can be. So while the work you are performing remains the same, your patient’s experience during the treatment will be very different, even if primarily from a psychological standpoint.

In a more practical sense, electric handpieces provide consistent levels of torque—which allow you to work more efficiently—and produce smoother tooth preparations. Additionally, they cut more easily through crowns and restorative material, where the bur on air-driven handpieces are more likely to make chattering noises and may produce a less efficient cut. They are also more effective and efficient when dealing with metals, ceramics, and polishing composites.

There are a variety of products available, and it’s worthwhile to consider their benefits and compromises. There are varying degrees of features and versatility, including things like programmable and variable settings, and touch screens. Find a system with a good user interface that you feel comfortable using. Consider which options would most benefit your practice and clientele. Also, if you are consulting with an outside expert on value-building, consider they’ll help you consider where your potential buyers may place greater value.

And, while there will be a bit of a learning curve as with digital radiography, ultimately, it will make your practice more efficient and provide a better experience for your patients. Whether you are considering putting your dental office for sale or not, this upgrade will have nothing but a positive impact on your practice. If you are, for instance, putting your dental practice for sale, San Antonio, TX, patients are the same as anywhere— no one wants to hear that “drilling sound” ever again, if they can avoid it.

Intraoral Camera: Let Your Patients See What You See

An intraoral camera can prove the truth of a couple of other old adages, that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and “talk is cheap.” Intraoral cameras allow your patient to see what you see. Rather than just explaining what the problem is, and why its a problem, you can show them. The impact of seeing a cracked tooth goes a long way towards understanding why it’s such a significant problem, and why the care being recommended is in the patient’s best interest, not simply a dentist’s sales effort.

Intraoral cameras can impact ongoing care as well. By building a photographic record of your patient’s teeth, you can use this to document progress, which the patient may find encouraging. You can also use the technology to do document a problem that is becoming more severe, to educate more reluctant patients. Additionally, your hygienists can use the images to document calculus buildup and, similarly, show the effects of good brushing and flossing, or the lack thereof.

As with the other technological improvements discussed above, the response from patients will be positive. The more they can understand about what you see and why you recommend treatments, the more confidence they’ll have in you, and your recommendations. This increase in confidence can help with patient retention, referrals, and patient compliance with recommended treatments. All of which is good for your bottom line, increasing the value of your practice.

Build Value Before You Put Your Dental Practice for Sale

You may think, “if the buying dentist wants all of these fancy gadgets, let them foot the bill.” And, honestly, depending on your market, that may be the smart move. Generally, however, these are low-cost ways to increase the value of your practice through patient satisfaction and retention, increasing procedures performed and collections, and making your office more attractive to buyers.

But, every practice is different. This is why, if you are considering transitioning in the next five years, now is a good time to call ddsmatch Southwest for a Free Practice Transition Assessment. Let us take the experience of hundreds of dentists from across the country and use it to help you get what you want out of your transition.

Call to schedule your no-obligation assessment today.